By Susan Dansby
Colleen Zenk and I are not friends. Although I've been putting words in her mouth – or rather, her character Barbara Ryan's mouth – for 13 years, Colleen and I have spoken a handful of times.
But we have something in common. We're both cancer survivors. I was diagnosed in 2008 with large cell lymphoma; and Colleen was diagnosed with oral cancer in 2007. Now, we're each (thankfully) cancer free.
My career was threatened temporarily as I went through six rounds of chemo over the course of five months – and found it exhausting to move from one room to another, let alone think and write. Conversely, Colleen's acting career could have been permanently derailed.
In a profession where good looks, vocal control and clear diction are far from optional, Colleen was faced with three surgeries, during which, half of her tongue had to be reconstructed.
And what did she do during a recovery fight that could have left most of us mired in self-pity? She played Barbara Ryan. What an undertaking. So many things we take for granted were affected and compromised: smell, taste, breathing, chewing, swallowing… speaking.
In soaps, actors are often responsible for 25-40 pages worth of dialogue on any given day. That's an average of 2000 individual words that are memorized, enlivened with emotion, and thrust on a journey from brain to sound. Imagine how frustrating it must have been for Colleen when the words heard and felt inside bore no resemblance to the sounds she made. For a while. Just for a while.
Because Colleen Zenk is no wilting flower. She's not one to back down from a fight; and she fought for every single word. She not only made herself heard and understood, she made us feel: her longing for love, her wistfulness as she vied for Henry's affection against a much younger woman, the joy that came with each kiss and each dance.
Colleen Zenk is a hero. That's why I think she should be on Dancing with the Stars.
What? Didn't see that segue coming? Here's the bottom line: Colleen wants to be on that show. She wants to strut her stuff, and be challenged mentally and physically. She wants to wear beautiful costumes and glide, jive and paso in the arms of a graceful, gorgeous dancer.
Colleen wants to celebrate a fight won, a life saved, a future possible – when things could have so easily turned out differently. I hope you'll join me and many, many, MANY of Colleen's fans in a campaign to get her on DWTS.
Help us convince ABC that Colleen's more than qualified to join the cast. She's a gorgeous woman of a certain age with a large fan following. Colleen knows how to entertain, is dedicated to being the best, has a story to tell, and millions of TV viewers to inspire.
If you, like me, would love to see Colleen dance here are some things you can do:
Join the Facebook group Colleen Zenk deserves to be on DWTS and ask your friends to join too: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_117723228292483&ap=1
Go to ABC.com and tell the producers that Colleen Zenk is your number one choice for Season 12 of Dancing with the Stars: http://abc.go.com/shows/dancing-with-the-stars/cast-season12#abc-comment
Follow @teamcolleen on Twitter and tweet your friends about wanting to see Colleen on DWTS
Be creative and have fun! Fans have done everything from making t-shirts and business cards to visiting nursing homes and schools to gather more support for Colleen. Everything you do will increase her visibility and help Colleen get one step closer to making her dream come true.
To watch a clip of Colleen dancing in the feature film Annie, click here.